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[infox] To those visiting BARCELONA, around Oct 12ish and staying for some days

Hi everybody

I would like to let you know that, for reasons not related to you, you will most likely encounter severe mobility difficulties at certain times during the aforementioned days here in Catalonia, especially in its capital city, Barcelona.

This is due to several civil disobedience activities planned by civil society and political parties that will take place to protest against the repression by the Spanish government towards Catalan people and institutions.

Around Oct 12th, the Spanish High Court is expected to deliver the sentence against ministers and the vice-president of the Catalan government for having held an independence referendum on October 2017. The sentence has already been leaked and will be hefty. This situation between Spain and Catalonia has been going on for several years but has recently spiked with the jailing of these elected representatives, the exile of the rest of the government and the temporary suspension of the self-government of Catalonia that took place last year.

As in any society --especially the Catalan one, formed by a large number of descendants of migrants from so many countries, and most especially from regions elsewhere in Spain-- there are different 'stands' on what the future of Catalonia should be, but a very large chunk pushes for independence. This has been expressed for several years during La Diada, the Catalan National Day, on Sep 11th by millions of people in massive marches as well as by the consecutive election of indy governments at every electoral call.

BUT, this doesn't mean that, as a tourist, one needs to cancel anything, just make provisions in case you have to modify your intended visits on specific days and also on ways to move from A to B if certain roads/streets are blocked.

Anyone that has followed these massive demonstrations of Catalan civil society these past few years will notice this is a non-violent festive-like movement that represents a wide cross-section of citizens covering all ages and walks of life. There has never been any violence at all -except during the indy referendum held in 2017 when the Spanish paramilitary police charged against voters.

I would imagine you'd like to know 'where' and 'when' all these activities will happen to try to minimize the consequences of these disruptions, but unfortunately, for obvious reasons, some will be announced just hours before they're convoked to prevent the Spanish government to block them.

--part 1--

Posted by
2530 posts

Having said that, some of the already announced activities to be held during these following days will include:

  • Friday 11th a general strike has been announced. This, however, hasn't been yet formalized and I suspect it might be postponed if the announced delivering of the Spanish High Court sentence for that date is in itself postponed too. But when it does happen, for different reasons irrelevant in this discussion, the effects of the strike might not necessarily be of a total closure but rather a limited one and some roadblocks.

  • Sun 13th at 10 am: a massive 'picnic' that will collapse traffic in BARCELONA. Yes, a picnic! :).... there'll be scores of people sitting on the pavement having a real picnic. The place won't be announced until a few minutes before -for the reasons stated earlier- but it's likely to be called in one of the main arteries, namely Diagonal Ave, Gran Via de Les Corts Catalanes, Passeig de Gràcia, Plaça Espanya, etc... as its goal is to difficult traffic in and out of the city. This first picnic has been planned for a Sunday as a test exercise, but there might be further 'picnics' down the road during weekdays. If arriving/departing from the airport, plan for taking the train or the metro instead of a taxi or bus.

  • On the day when the sentence is delivered by the Spanish High Court: five large 3-day foot marches will take place, each one departing from five different areas in Catalonia (Girona, Tarragona, Tàrrega, Berga and Vic) to cover the whole road network. These will convey in its capital city, Barcelona on the third day. As one can imagine, mobility these days will be particularly difficult. If you had planned day-out escapades (ie Montserrat, etc) do use the train network, which won't be blocked.

--part 2--

Posted by
2530 posts

I would like to stress once more, especially for those unaware of this unsavoury relationship between Spain and Catalonia, that this is nothing new, the tension has been there for several years -and yet millions of tourists continue to visit every year!. And, for God sake, this ain't like those dramatic Hollywood movies of the French resistance in Paris in 1940, not by a long shot!

So before rushing to cancel your trip, get informed and evaluate your decision. While this is a very personal one, IMHO, I see no reason (at present) why one should do so as there's no particular situation that would advise otherwise. As mentioned earlier, googling will yield you many videos of indy protests in Catalonia so you can assess for yourself how 'accurate' my portrays are.

Yet... while, as mentioned earlier, these always take the shape of festive-like activities where everybody is welcome to join and mingle, one needs to be aware that the Spanish have recently sent more paramilitary police to the region and a taste of their violence was already seen in 2017, so be alert.

Note this post has carefully been worded to explain what is going on but is not intended to generate any debate as is only to inform those visiting, and therefore I won't enter into explaining, clarifying or debating the background reasons with anyone.

I will try to update it as any information relevant to visitors becomes available.

--END--

Posted by
3666 posts

Enric, 2 questions.
Would the final match snarl the highway from Valencia to the airport? Also, will police use Twitter with relevant posts in English for tourists like they did 2 years ago? If so, please post their Twitter account. Thanks for taking the time to update us.

Posted by
1 posts

Thank you for posting this information. This is exactly the time I will be in Barcelona so it's good to know what might happen.

Posted by
260 posts

As Enric has pointed out, tourist shouldn't worry too much, just be aware of possible problems.

The US State Dept. on the other hand likes to over react.

@MariaF, this is the warning the State Dept sent out about possible problems on Oct 1. It contains links to different police and news organizations.

Demonstration Alert- October 1st

Location: Barcelona, Spain

Event: Several demonstrations related to Catalonia’s political situation are expected to take place on October 1st. Additional demonstrations at other locations in Catalonia may also occur. Please see our Demonstrations in Spain webpage for more information.

Actions to Take:

· Avoid the areas of the demonstrations.
· Exercise caution if in the vicinity of large gatherings or protests.
· Monitor local media for updates.
· Be aware of your surroundings.
· Keep a low profile.
· Notify friends and family of your safety.

U.S. citizens may monitor English-language Spanish media at the following website:
https://elpais.com/elpais/inenglish.html

Also, view updates on Twitter, Facebook and Official Websites from the Mossos d’Esquadra (Regional Police), Barcelona City Police, Spanish National Police and Guardia Civil:

Mossos d’Esquadra (Regional Police)

Barcelona City Police

https://twitter.com/spanishpolice?lang=en

https://www.facebook.com/PoliciaNacional/?fref=ts

https://www.policia.es/

https://twitter.com/guardiacivil?lang=en

https://www.facebook.com/GuardiaCivil.es/

http://www.guardiacivil.es/en/servicios/atencionciudadano_1/index.html

Posted by
2530 posts

Hi MariaF

1.) Valencia is not in Catalonia, so not related.

2.) Catalan Police (and Catalan government official channels) will indeed inform about disruptions. Their Spanish counterparts are unlikely to do so, as they never do. I would stick to Mossos d'Esquadra (Catalan Police) https://twitter.com/mossos?lang=en and Guardia Urbana (Barcelona City Police) https://twitter.com/barcelona_gub?lang=en

Again, despite the US StatDept alerts -they're always so alarmists!- there won't be any violence by protestors.

For those willing to follow the news, my personal advice is to follow the Barcelona-based press, which is the one more accurate to the reality of what happens. There are several news outlets, my choices would be: https://www.vilaweb.cat/categoria/in-english/ and https://www.elnacional.cat/en/news but again, plenty more to choose from.

Posted by
4525 posts

Thank you for posting all this information, Enric. I will be in Barcelona starting October 16 and I appreciate the "heads up."

Posted by
3666 posts

Enric, I am fully aware that Valencia isn't in Catalonia, but to get from there to BCN airport, you do enter Catalonia. And since I looked at a map, it looks like it feeds into same road system of Tarragona and Girona....so, impact could be further spread than just Barcelona. That was what I was wanting confirmation on. Heck, I am not even going to be in Spain, but since I was there 2 years ago during election upheaval, I well remember activities and making decisions for plan B and C. It was meant for consideration for those further afield. Valencia is a little more frequently on people's radar.
I asked for the Twitter account for the same reason. Very useful last time around and made sense to have it here in one place.

Posted by
2530 posts

@MariaF Ahhh, my mistake, from your wording I thought you meant from Valencia (city) to Manises (Valencia airport).

Yes, if you referred to Barcelona's, then you're right, it will affect those coming from Valencia. HOWEVER, note that train is an alternative from Valencia -no blockades announced for the train network. Also, there are "back roads" -and/or longer itineraries- that can be taken if you're driving.

To date, there's no certainty when exactly is the High Court sentence going to be announced, most likely by the end of this coming week but not 100% sure. The "five-marches 3-day" campaign, which is the one you mention, will start on the day of the handing of that sentence.

Anyway, as I said, it's going to be difficult to "predict" when mobility is going to be affected and how severely since, as I pointed, a civil disobedience campaign main means is, precisely, to create chaos so the pursued objective can be discussed with the relevant authority.

Posted by
3666 posts

Enric, I also owe apologies, I see. I had two versions of yesterday's post and this short one was sent in a hurry.....meaning 'BCN' was missing, so I understand the blunt reply now.
Last visit, I did change Barcelona for Valencia because the bus stops at BCN. So regardless what was happening in Barcelona itself at the time, I could still fly home. Road blocks from so far out of the city weren't happening then. But if trains are running, then transfer between cities are doable.
I remember the uncertainties of 2 years ago. There are bound to be some now as well. Good luck to those impacted.

Posted by
2043 posts

a civil disobedience campaign main means is, precisely, to create chaos so the pursued objective can be discussed with the relevant authority.

I remember the uncertainties of 2 years ago. There are bound to be some now as well. Good luck to those impacted.

Unfortunately, with these kinds of actions, the ones who most exclusively suffer are the local community itself, I doubt there will be hardly any effect or even acknowledgment in Madrid and others parts of Spain. If the indys really want to make a chaos, then they could target the mass tourist infrastructure of Barcelona, blocking entrance to the main tourist sites etc. to force international acknowledgement too.

PS: La Vanguardia is another reputable local newspaper of Barcelona, that one can check for updates, although you may need to hit "translate this page" in the top right for English. So far, no one mainstream paper is really talking about this though, with fresh national elections on the horizon.

Posted by
325 posts

Meanwhile… also on the 12th — Festa major de Les Corts and Festa Major de Sarria.
Here is a link to the programme for the Festa Major de Les Corts:
https://media-edg.barcelona.cat/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/01142014/Programa-FM19_10web.pdf

Lots of interesting and exciting stuff, including Open Doors of the Gaudí Pavilions between 10am and 4pm (with free guided tours in català and Spanish at 12midday and 1pm respectively) on Saturday/Dissabte 12th. Sardana on Friday/Divendres 11th at 6pm, a demonstration of castellers (not a contest) on Saturday/Dissabte 12th at 12.30pm and correfocs on the Sunday/Diumenge 13th, with a children’s correfoc planned for 8pm and the adult correfoc planned for 8.40pm.

And here's a link to the programme for the Festa Major de Sarrià: https://media-edg.barcelona.cat/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/25123032/Programa-Petit-Festa-Major-Sarria-2019.pdf
It’s in Catalan, but if you look at the Saturday/Dissabte 12th you’ll see that there’s a correfoc planned for 8.30pm (and there’s one planned for 8 in the morning). On Sunday/Diumenge 13th you’ll see that there is a castellers event planned to start at 11am.

Enjoy your visit

Posted by
13 posts

Hi Enric,

Thanks for the valuable information. We will be arriving in Barcelona on Saturday October 12. We were going to use the Aerobus to get to our hotel but their website is now saying that they will have limited service that day due to the demonstrations (dropping off at one location only, not near our hotel). Do you think the metro is our best bet?

Posted by
2530 posts

Hi Beth, where exactly is your hotel/apt?

Posted by
2530 posts

On Oct 12th, there is never any public "official" act/activity planned anywhere in Catalonia, and the majority of Catalans don't do anything special, it's just a regular holiday bank day and we enjoy it as so. Note that the National Day of Catalonia is on Sep 11th.

Yet, as the multicultural society that we are here in Barcelona, we do have some residents that deeply feel their "Spanishness" and like to demonstrate it.

There are three small rallies announced for Oct 12th, all of them at noon(ish):

  • In Plaça Catalunya, by an association called SCC. No altercations are expected. It'll occupy the central part of the square.

  • In Plaça Espanya, by several Spanish fascist associations that bring some of their followers into Catalonia from different cities in Spain specifically for this day. They tend to gather very few people, they're rowdy and can be violent. AVOID THE AREA at noon or, if you need to pass thru, do so quickly before police charges start happening -which isn't unlikely. They'll most probably gather in Avinguda Maria Cristina, towards the Magic Fountain. There'll be a heavy Catalan police presence.

  • In Jardinets de Gràcia (Passeig de Gràcia corner with Diagonal Avenue), by small groups of anti-fascist ('antifa') protesting the presence of these fascist groups coming into the city. They also tend to be few but their relationship with the police isn't sweet if you know what I mean. Most of their protests tend to be peaceful, but in the past, there have been a few not so, thus one can never be sure how will they play.

and one more, but on Oct 11th:

  • at 4:30 pm in La Virreina (lower part of Les Rambles), the association of Latinamerican migrants in Catalonia, "Coordinadora Latina", will march under the motto "Nothing to celebrate" referred to Oct 12th. This one is unlikely to cause any safety concern at all.

Again, in general terms, IMHO nothing to be concerned neither regarding mobility nor safety at this stage for that day. Most people will go about their life enjoying the Saturday but avoiding these specific areas at these specific times. These rallies tend to disperse fairly quickly and life returns to normal.

Having said that, this is a very special year because of the Catalan political prisoners being trialled in Madrid and the general mood here in Catalonia by lots of people is one of anger towards the Spanish government. They've recently sent over to Catalonia lots of Spanish paramilitary police to repress demonstrations. During the referendum vote in October 2017 the world was already able to see how violent they can be, so... while nothing major is expected to happen on Oct 12th, one needs to be alert on how things progress in reference of the handing of the sentence (explained at the beginning of this post) and adjust plans accordingly.

Posted by
13 posts

Hi Enric,

We are staying at Hotel MidMost, not far from the Universitat metro station.

Posted by
260 posts

Chicken Little is panicking again. The State Department has just sent out its warning:

Consulate General of the United States of America
Barcelona, Spain

Demonstration Alert – October 9, 2019

Location: Barcelona, Spain

Event: The verdict in the trial of pro-independence Catalan leaders is expected to be announced soon. Significant demonstration activity may take place throughout Catalonia after the verdict is made public. In the past, demonstrations have disrupted public transportation and have included gatherings near government facilities.

Please see our Demonstrations in Spain webpage for more information.

Actions to Take:

· Avoid the areas of the demonstrations.
· Exercise caution if in the vicinity of large gatherings or protests.
· Monitor local media for updates.
· Be aware of your surroundings.
· Keep a low profile.
· Notify friends and family of your safety.

U.S. citizens may monitor English-language Spanish media at the following website:
https://elpais.com/elpais/inenglish.html

Also, view updates on Twitter, Facebook and Official Websites from the Mossos d’Esquadra (Regional Police), Barcelona City Police, Spanish National Police and Guardia Civil:

Mossos d’Esquadra (Regional Police)
Barcelona City Police
https://twitter.com/spanishpolice?lang=en
https://www.facebook.com/PoliciaNacional/?fref=ts
https://www.policia.es/
https://twitter.com/guardiacivil?lang=en
https://www.facebook.com/GuardiaCivil.es/
http://www.guardiacivil.es/en/servicios/atencionciudadano_1/index.html

Posted by
5 posts

Hi Enric,
We will be arriving in Barcelona by Renfre train on Oct. 17. We have tickets to Parc Guell and the Sagrada de Familia on Saturday the 19th.
What do you advise?

Posted by
2530 posts

@Beth

Taking into account most of us don't work in tourism and that the city has 600+ hotels... next time it's best to post the address instead :)

Given that "surface" transportation can be complicated to that area on that day, you have two alternatives, none optimal, but reasonable nonetheless.

1.) Take the metro L9 Sud (orange) at the airport to Torrassa station and change there to L1 (red) to Universitat station. Ticket: 4.60€ pp, journey time: ~40' + ~25' = a little over 1h.

2.) Go to terminal 2 (T2) at the airport and walk to the Rodalies train station. Every 30' a train departs to the city. You need to get off at Passeig de Gràcia (~35') and from there walk this itinerary to your hotel (walk THIS ONE which will avoid you passing near the rally): http://bit.ly/2MvXVdm It's a 20' walk.

Anyway, if you 're arriving outside the window, say, 10:30 am-2:30 pm, there won't probably be any trace left of the rally in Plaça Catalunya.

==================================

@lyharrington

Well, I have no crystal ball and I can't possibly know how the people will react and how demonstrations and blockades will evolve "that far" in time. The sentence is expected on the 11th or the 14th. As I said, there's a general mood of anger here in Catalonia, and depending on the handling of the demonstrations by the Spanish, they'll intensify one way or another. If there's heavy-handed handling, there'll surely be more protests and they'll be more sustained in time. With this in mind, with today's information, I can say there'll be a general strike on the 18th, but the 17th and 19th should be 'regular' days (as of today), thus you shouldn't be affected.

Enjoy you both!

Posted by
10 posts

Any update on what is happing today in the city. Especially in the tourtist spots. I understand the sagria familia is closed..thanks